July 8, 2012

Today's Hotness: You're Jovian, Thick Shakes, Yr Friends

You're Jovian, photo by James Robert Smith, cropped

>> [PHOTO: James Robert Smith] Unless you are a drunk military guy looking for a fight, culturally we've always perceived Norfolk, VA as having little to offer (sorry Norfolk!). OK, that's totally unfair, and to prove it, we now have evidence that the town is also home to an indie rock scene manufacturing laser-precise guitar bombers of the highest order. Introducing You're Jovian, a quartet that released June 28 its impressively realized full-length debut, Stereochronic, for free via Bandcamp. The long-player screams of patient attention to detail, and boasts masterful, '90s-friendly college-rock guitar tones, clean and steady drumming, and the kinds of dynamics that most groups are lucky just to have the imagination for. Even while borrowing elements from many of the most timeless examples of '90s indie, You're Jovian never comes across as thieves, but rather as bright, attentive students. Those pick slaps punctuating every strum of "And Now," which we've embedded below? That's the brutally honest Fender mangling of There's Nothing Wrong With Love-era Built To Spill, baby. The part in that same song at 1:42 where the guitar jumps up into a high single-note warble while the stoned bass plays hopscotch underneath? Man, that recalls some prime Swirlies doing their random noise-slacker brainiac thing on a tune like "Upstairs." You're Jovian fronter Elliot Malvas' vocals? They're rife with all-knowing cool the likes of which Yo La Tengo's Georgia Hubley and Ira Kaplan still dish out biennially: assured and rocking, a foil to impatient tempos and solos. Absolutely killer opener "Sentimental Doubt" not only shows off the clear and crisp, yet tastefully submerged production of this album, but also plays around with its incessant chiming guitar riff. Finally, Stereochronic devolves into noise experiments and band in-jokes, a sign the foursome still rock it just for themselves, that corporate rock still sucks. Forever. Malvas and company have a seemingly effortless talent, one that deserves to be heard far past I-64 Corridor traffic jams and Clear Channel target demographics. Stream "And Now" and the stunning "All Alone" via the embeds below, then download the entire record for free at Bandcamp. -- Edward Charlton

>> Just in time for the season of serial heat waves comes a deliriously sweaty, futilely forehead-mopping cassette single from Boston garage rockers Thick Shakes. Released this weekend and available now at Bandcamp and via Aurora 7 Records, the quartet's French Dyppe features two fiery organ rave-ups along with instrumental versions of same for all of your party DJ needs. The band's fast-food referencing name is certainly fitting, as it’s easy to imagine that magical era when pimply-faced boys and girls gyrated to primitive fuzz pedals in a place as wholesome (and well, unwholesome) as a local, greasy burger joint. Why? Because that was the only place they could go with the kind of jukebox required to seed a future punk movement. Like the original apes of that era (? & The Mysterians, Strawberry Alarm Clock, The Kingsmen), Thick Shakes' music acknowledges the rebellious jubilation hiding within us all. Of course this youthful tradition of epiphany through volume has carried into every subsequent generation since, and here, the Bostonians capture those origins with all the right moments of abandon and taste, imbuing the final product with just enough contemporary production touches and nuances. Dig the yelping verse that pops in "Friends Like These," and the pick scrapes on the guitar at 0:35 during "Jaywalker." Not to mention the amazing, sharp organ work that is sadly lacking in a lot of music made today. With just two songs, Thick Shakes lay claim to the perennially untamable garage rock zeitgeist. Stream the mind-blower "Jaywalker" below, and get thee that cassingle pronto. -- Edward Charlton

>> The intermittent side-project of Johnny Foreigner fronter Alexei Berrow, Yr Friends, has loosed another short stack of songs to the Internetosphere. Yr Friends Am Shit At Poetry comprises four tracks, three spoken-word-spangled tracks of Lex's patented brand of affecting logorrhea and one shambling acoustic cover of Modest Mouse's "Third Planet From The Sun." The latter song makes us wonder how it is possible that we've never heard Johnny Foreigner playing Modest Mouse's "Shit Luck," because Lex would be ace at singing it. Calling the songs of Yr Friends Am Shit At Poetry sketches doesn't do them justice, as they don't sound dashed off. But they are unusual in that they are structurally linear, something Mr. Berrow addresses on the Yr Friends tumblr: "I don't know what these songs are. I told loads of people I was doing poetry but I think I'm using that as a pretentious way to say, no choruses. Or much singing." There is gold in this collection, particularly the synth-led lead track "My Summa In Ibeefa" and the more characteristically spare strummer "Another Quiet Friday Night At The Chloro Party," and we've embedded the latter track below. The entire collection is just two pounds sterling via Bandcamp, and all proceeds will help Lex keep his head above water while waiting months to get paid for working merch at the 'lympics in Old Smoke starting at the end of the month. Buy buy buy! We haven't had any updates officially from the Johnny Foreigner camp regarding the mythical U.S. tour they mentioned last month, but we remain cautiously optimistic. The Birmingham, England-based noise pop titans' third full-length Johnny Foreigner vs. Everyhing is being reissued later this summer, as we've mentioned previously in these electronic pages.

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